The dog, Stanley

Theopraxesis (Theoria-Praxis-Poiesis)

Posted on: Wed, 2014-06-04 18:15   By: glue

                  Our generative template is Plato's dialogue, Socrates as persona dramatizing literate metaphysics through his conversations with friends.  In heuretic terms (logic of invention that we are using to craft an electrate metaphysics), the Republic teaches us by Contrast.  We accept its question and strategy, but seek something different (not necessarily something "opposite").  The invention of new methods throughout the history of literacy drew upon an implicit CATTt (the acronym identifying the devices of Contrast, Analogy, Theory, Target, tale).  Five inputs, from whose intertextual constellation emerges a set of instructions for the new practice.  We call upon this proven device of literacy to bootstrap ourselves into electracy.  We don't yet have the complete institution, but we have most of the parts, and you are learning electracy by helping us put them together.  Analogy is "art" in a post-medium sense, with the exemplars of Sterbak and Brodsky already being reviewed for instructions.  Theory is "philosophy" again in a general sense, drawing upon the work of Continental Poststructuralism primarily.  Target is the Internet, the emergent institution in need of a language practice.  Tale for now is our lessons and exercises, but what we seek is an "app" (to use this term as shorthand) for EmerAgency consulting, to support participation in a fifth estate.  This fifth estate is to a global political order what journalism as fourth estate has been to the order of nation states.  We need names for our distinctive processes, forms, and practices, to facilitate discussion, to clarify and direct our collaboration in this invention.  Our form is not "dialogue" but "konsult," functioning as an app for a "smart" device with internet connectivity, in order to contribute to social media and their database resources, including "surveillance" conditions in intelligent environments.  To distinguish our electrate logic from dialectic let us call it "appiphany."

                  The fifth estate does for everyday life--ordinary habitus, quotidian routines--what the fourth estate does for extraordinary events, "all the news that is fit to print."  In everyday life "nothing happens," or rather, everything "else" goes on in our getting by and passing through.  As the poet William Carlos Williams wrote, "It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there." Emerson referred to the "silent melancholy" of routine living, that Thoreau called "quiet desperation." This dimension of everyday experience is registered in "Waiting for High Water," our allegory.  Sterbak takes her dog Stanley for a walk on a winter day in Venice.  Most people who have a dog take it for a walk every day (the dog insists upon it).  Here is an action, Doing-- Praxis.   At the same time the walk is recorded in video (cameras attached to Stanley's head).  This is Making--Poiesis.  Thinking frames the performances at several levels, in the interaction between the scene of high water and the manner in which it is experienced. Sterbak as exemplary artist developed the footage for an installation, but you and I post our videos online. The archive of recordings is available for further processing, to support a collective experience. These terms signal that our allegory is reconfiguring the relationship among the three intellectual virtues (capacities) identified in literacy from Aristotle to Kant:  Theoria (Knowledge of what is necessary), Praxis (taking Action in a particular situation), Poiesis (making an aesthetic product).  Kant's three critiques formulate the limits of these faculties--Pure, Practical, and Aesthetic Reason.  The most satisfying human experience is when these three capacities function together in harmonious interplay, Kant maintained, although the analytical procedures of literacy have worked to separate, isolate, and put the three in conflict.

                  It is not difficult to sort out the different emphases of the fourth and fifth estates. My local newspaper reported recently the rape and murder of two teenage girls in rural India.  The girls of a lower caste we attacked, raped, murdered, and their bodies hung from a mango tree in the village.  The context shifts to the concerns of the fifth estate:  the girls had walked into a field some fifteen minutes from the village in the dark of night to relieve themselves.  Women usually go in larger groups for protection, wary of just such attacks.  U. N. figures show that half of India's population of 1.2 billion people have no toilets. "From villages in Nepal to the urban slums of Cape Town, South Afria, women say that lack of safe access to toilets often puts them at risk of sexual violence and harassment" (Gainesville Sun, June 4, 2014).  Well-being demands a justice of toilets, and proposes a new measure to secure it. One of the classical quarrels in the tradition is among the three crafts of history, literature, and philosophy, concerning the hierarchy of truth. Aristotle ordered the hierarchy with history the lowest, concerned with the past of particular actions; poetry next imagining the possibilities of what might be; philosophy the highest, articulating what ought to be in eternal truth.  Three transcendental categories are invoked--the Good (enacted by Statesmen), the Beautiful (produced by artists), the True (defined by Philosophers).  The goal of our konsult genre is to design and test theopraxesis, a performance engaging all three capacities simultaneously.  The integration of the three capacities requires and enables a reconfiguration of Justice as capability, to enable participation in a fifth estate, working for well-being against disaster.